Joe Kinnear wants to make West Ham's Matthew Upson his first signing at Newcastle United and there is quiet confidence at St James' Park that, with West Ham facing financial difficulties, Newcastle will be able to prise the 29-year-old England centre-back away from Upton Park.
Kinnear spoke last week about having the funds from owner Mike Ashley to sanction two £6m signings, but it would take more than £6m to get Upson. However, with West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola being told that he will be able to re-invest a certain amount to shape a new squad, Newcastle could possibly offer £8m to make the transfer happen. West Ham will be keen to lose Upson's salary, if not the player.
Newcastle also have a long-standing interest in Blackburn's Stephen Warnock but even this theoretical recruitment process is evidence of Ashley's willingness to hear Kinnear's views and according to Kinnear, Michael Owen will not be leaving the club in January. "No chance," he said yesterday.
Kinnear is less optimistic though that Owen will remain at Newcastle after his contract expires at the end of the season. "I am not that confident to be honest," he said."I will sit down with Michael on Tuesday. I'm pretty confident about everyone else but Michael is a different kettle of fish."
Owen, 29 tomorrow, is one of seven players whose contracts have been allowed to run down but Kinnear said that four of the players – Owen, Nicky Butt, Shola Ameobi and Steve Harper – will receive new offers on Monday.
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